Pesticide Awareness Program (PAP)
In the fall of 2012, several of SBBA’s members living and caring for hives in Montecito experienced what was later determined to be pesticide exposure to 16 colonies of honeybees. It is estimated that over 750,000 bees died from this exposure. We immediately formed our Pesticide Awareness Committee to establish what is now called our Pesticide Awareness Program (PAP). The program objective is to educate homeowners, gardeners and landscape companies about responsible pesticide use and application to reduce the environmental impacts that they have.
Just as we were launching this program, we were contacted by our Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner that Asian Citrus Psyllids (ACP) were found in Santa Barbara and Goleta. We were told that California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) would be notifying approximately 280 residences of plans to apply pesticides to their backyard citrus trees.
Organic and many backyard growers opted-out from state-directed voluntary treatment of portions of Goleta with a pesticide to control ACP during the height of the Goleta lemon bloom in April 2013.
The active ingredient, imidacloprid, is highly toxic to bees. Last year the European Union banned this and two other pesticides due to the extraordinary risk they pose to bees. Imidacloprid was blamed for the largest reported bee die-off to date near Portland Oregon, where foliar application to blooming trees killed at least 25,000 bees in a Target parking lot which has now led to the Oregon Department of Agriculture to ban the use of these pesticides in the entire State.
Since we recognize that ACP poses a significant threat to local citrus orchards, the Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association supports the use of non-chemical pest control strategies to control ACP in our area. ACP and the disease it can carry (HLB) have devastated Florida Citrus and the California citrus industry is not yet prepared for this disease. Scientists at UC Riverside are propagating natural predator wasps to control the ACP, and HLB-resistant root stock is in development. The advance of ACP and introduction of HLB into our and other areas must be slowed to allow these strategies to be ready.
We need to make information about Alternative Treatment Programs (ATP) available to people that have opted out of chemical pesticide treatment and who want to help prevent the spread of ACP using methods that are safe for bees.
SBBA representatives have now met with County Supervisors, CDFA, California Department of Pesticide Regulation and our Agricultural Commissioner to try and persuade them to acknowledge ATP’s as a viable alternatives. At the end of June 2013 we received our first positive responses.
UC Davis just updated their Pest Management Guidelines to include Organically Acceptable Methods in the fight against ACP and CDFA has agreed to send our ATP to two of their committees for review. We will take this as a win (at least for now) for the bees.
We still have a long way to go and your support is very much appreciated. Click on the links to get more information about ways that you can assist our pollinators.